Friday, November 4, 2016

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 1 review

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High Score Girl Continue, vol. 1 (SquareEnix, 2015-16), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+.
Hmm. Well, The Daily Yomiuri newspaper ran a largely useless review of this manga a few weeks ago. I'd bookmarked it with plans to refer to it for this review, but I just now discovered that they don't archive old stories for more than 1 month unless you get a premium subscription from them. That's disappointing, because that paper isn't really worth spending money on. The only reason I was going to mention the article at all was the lawsuit that SNK brought against Rensuke Oshikiri for violating their copyright on the Street Fighter games. The wiki article isn't very good either, which doesn't help. Anyway, there's not much point in my including links to Yomiuri reviews of manga if no one can read them...

(Haruo meets Akira.)

Ok. Oshikiri created a manga set in the 1990's, featuring a young boy that likes playing arcade games in various game centers around Tokyo. The story was both an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the time, as well as being a magnifying glass on the gamer culture then. To do that, Oshikiri had to include a lot of artwork from a wide variety of arcade machines, including Street Fighter I and II. And that's where the problems came in, because he hadn't gotten permission to use SNK's artwork (wow, imagine that, a Japanese artist that violated someone's copyrights...) Oshikiri was running the manga in monthly Gangan magazine (2010-), which SNK sued, and the police raided Gangan's offices for evidence in 2014. In 2015, Square Enix and SNK came to an agreement, SNK withdrew the lawsuit, and Enix restarted publishing High Score Girl.

(Akira runs afoul of a bully that dislikes being beaten at Street Fighter.)

Haruo Yaguchi is a 6th year elementary school student that is really bad in all subjects. To escape the pressure from the teachers and his classmates, he goes to the game centers, where he has become one of the best arcade players around. His main game is Street Fighter II. One day, he finds a girl, Akira Oono, is in the same center, and is beating everyone else at "his" game in two-player mode. He recognizes her from his class as the best student in the school. She's from a very rich, powerful family, and that's the problem. When she's at home, she's forced to study, and practice the piano, when she'd really rather play games. Haruo is the better player, but just as he's about to beat her in the game, she kicks the machine into him and punches him in the face. The story proceeds from here, with the two of them constantly crossing paths, and Akira visiting Haruo's house just to play games on his PC Engine console. By the end of volume 1, Haruo is realizing that Akira is the only one that understands him, just as her family ships her off to a school in Los Angeles at the start of the Junior High year.

(After a long day of visiting haunted game arcades, the kids end up taking a bus home.)

The artwork is very good. The backgrounds and locations around Tokyo and the Tama river look authentic. Oshikiri knows his game machines, and he spends many pages talking about them. But, the story doesn't get bogged down in the details too much. The character designs are very retro-looking, which may deter some manga fans from picking up this title. But, if you like video games, and you want to see Japan as it looked just before the economic bubble burst, this is a good book to buy.

(Akira and Harou visit an amusement center. Harou is getting better at avoiding Akira's attacks.)

Summary: High Score Girl Continue tells the story of a school boy that likes playing arcade games, and the people he meets that share his interests. Recommended if you like arcade games, too.

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